Tuesday, August 23rd, 2011

Next up is BaconBits. As we’ve been saying, this is your chance for bacon fame and glory. Well at least for fame and glory among all of us out enjoying BaconFest! Last year there were lollipops, a log cabin, short breads, and more. Don’t forget, sometimes the most simple dish is the best.

It’s simple:
Download the entry form (image above)
Practice your dish that fits in the savory, sweet, or creative category
Bring your game face and your best bacon dish possible to Ijams
It’s $5 to get in the door and your dish needs to be on the table by 5:45
The judging, by a luminary panel of bacon lovers, will begin and winners will be crowned, and by crowned, we mean bacon CROWNED

If you don’t want to make a bacon dish you can still come spectate. Sit under the stars at Ijams and enjoy the bucolic scenery that gets even better when there’s bacon in the air! We will have picnic dinners from Rita Cochran who has been cooking for years and makes some of the best food I’ve ever eaten. Jennifer Niceley and friends will be our musical entertainment after the new bacon winners have been crowned.

Purchase your dinner and entry fee HERE.


Monday, August 22nd, 2011

Well folks, BaconFest is in FOUR WEEKS! We are getting very excited over here at Mockingbird HQ and so this week will highlight each of the events. Tickets are moving swiftly and we want to see you all there, so get those tickets while they are still available for the getting.

We’re going to work our way backwards on the schedule, so today it’s BaconFest Bar Food and Corsair Artisan Distillery at the Public House. This will be the culminating celebration of all things bacon and what a celebration it’s going to be. It’s going to be unfettered, bar food, beer drinking fun.

It will be your chance to have dishes from many of the top culinary minds from Knoxville. Want a glimpse of the kind of food Governor Haslam has at the Executive Residence? This is your chance, Matt Gallaher a Knoxville native and Blackberry Farm alum, current chef to Gov. Haslam will be cooking up his inspirational take on bar food. Want to taste what the magical minds behind Harry’s Deli will do with Benton’s? You can have that too. Then there is the ever surprising, ever inspiring Holly Hambright of Holly’s Eventful Dining. Finally, what does Stanton Webster, the manager of Nama and wine lover extraordinaire know about cooking? A lot, an awful lot, and he’ll be showing off his skills along with the rest of this team of chefs.

As if this was not enough, Corsair will have Blackberry Farm beers for us to taste. Blackberry will be releasing their new beer around BaconFest time out at the farm. It will not be available to the public till some time in 2012, unless you are coming to this event. This is a special chance to taste what is sure to be wonderful new craft beer. Classic Saison and Smoke Ale will be on offering in tasting portions. We’ll also have some signature cocktails all with Corsair spirits. If you haven’t had their Triple Smoke or Gin you are missing out. Smooth and distinct.

So, as you can see this is going to be a party. Many of our culinary guests will hopefully be celebrating along side with us. Here’s to Allan Benton, Blackberry Farm, Matt, Holly, Stanton, Amy and Ben! We are lucky to call Knoxville home with the likes of these luminaries cooking for us!

Tickets HERE.


Old School

Tuesday, August 2nd, 2011

I got to do some research for BaconFest this weekend while in New York City. We went around to a few old school butcher shops. There was a lot of hanging meat, spiraled sausages, and awesome old men. All around these shops are fancy stores with over priced ‘fashion’. These are some of the hold outs and what makes New York New York.

BaconFest is ON SALE!

Wednesday, July 20th, 2011


It is upon us. We have so many exciting elements to this year’s festival it is hard for me to contain myself. Joseph Lenn is cooking with Sean Brock. Blackberry farm is selecting wines for this dinner. Holly Hambright, Stanton Webster, Matt Gallaher and Ben and Amy Willis-Becker are collaborating to create bacon bar food at the Public House. Corsair Artisan Distillery will be our spirits partner. Mountain Valley Spring and Sparkling Water and Ijams are sponsors. Allan Benton will be hanging out all weekend. The BaconBits competition is new and improved. Head on over to the official website to get the low down on each event. Peruse, buy some tickets, start thinking of your BaconBits entry. It’s going to be a weekend of experimenting with swine.

Tuesday Field Trip: Benton’s Country Hams

Tuesday, September 21st, 2010

The past couple weeks have been pretty hectic. We were rushing to get the bar open by October 1 but then we realized that was insane and not going to happen. But we still had to push for our beer permit, health department, fire, and operation certificates by today.

It’s also time to start working on BaconFest 2011. So I got my proposal together and went out to see Allan Benton at Benton’s Country Hams. Back in June he already graciously offered to be the sponsor again, which is fitting since Allan has been the inspiration for bacon parties from the beginning. Through visits to his shop, him being on some panels with my dad, and last year’s BaconFest we’ve become friends. I knew when I called and smiled more than I had in weeks just from a 60 second phone call that the visit was going to be a good one.

Now I know I’ve written about visiting Benton’s a number of times but each time is a different kind of visit. This time I noticed the parking lot, for once, was not full of cars. Usually when you go into the little store there are at least 4 or 5 people waiting. The staff has started to recognize me as the person who has the bacon parties so I was greeted accordingly. Always the same 3 or 4 people working, slicing, packing. And Allan was actually in his office instead of the smoke house or helping a customer. So we sat and talked for about a half an hour. It was definitely the highlight of the past few weeks. We talked about pork prices and food in Knoxville. John Fleer and Joseph Lenn. BaconFest came up for a minute or two. I got some really good advice for the Public House.

After a half hour or so we went to get my pork rounded up. He always sends me home with a few packs of bacon and prosciutto. I got some stuff for my cousin and friends and then he gave me this big ol’ chunk of 17 month old country ham to serve as prosciutto at the Public House! Probably the best soon-to-be opening gift ever!

So stay tuned for more about BaconFest and Public House opening. Tell all your friends!

Bacon and Smoke Lovers Unite

Monday, May 24th, 2010

I love Allan Benton. ‘I was country before country was cool.” There’s a new New York Times article about bacon, smoked hams, and the New York chefs that use them, all from right around here. We’ve always known country was cool…

David Luttrell BaconFest Pictures

Monday, March 8th, 2010

David Luttrell did an amazing job documenting the planning of BaconFest for the Metropulse. He was kind enough to share his shots with Mockingbird. Below are a few selects that didn’t make it into the paper.

Thanks David!!

Allan Benton at work

Q the Pig's jalepeno masterpiece 2nd course

Holly Hambright's amazing lobster bisque

Hey Craft and Spoon got any of this bacon toffee goodness leftover?